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June 11, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:21am

Andrew Neil says GB News plans to take war on ‘woke’ establishment media global

By Freddy Mayhew

If GB News proves a success in the UK the model could be replicated in other countries, according to the news channel’s chairman Andrew Neil.

GB News launches at 8pm on Sunday 13 June across freeview TV and digital platforms, promising personality-led, appointment-to-view programming as opposed to the bulletin-led, rolling news channels of the BBC and Sky.

[Read more: GB News ‘won’t be hate-filled divisive shout-fest’ says journalism chief John McAndrew ahead of launch]

Speaking at the FT’s Future of News virtual event, Neil was asked whether investors – who have pumped £60m into the venture – will be looking to sell up and take their profit if the channel is a success. He said: “If we make a success of this we will not be anxious to sell because for us Britain is simply the first market.

“This business model is structured in a way that if we can make it work in Britain we’ll be looking at other markets, Spain, for example, Eastern European markets, where we will do the equivalent – not a one size fits all CNN International or BBC World, but new distinctive news channels for distinctive markets.

“Our holding company would own these channels, as it does GB News, but develop separate channels because we still believe news is largely national.”

[Read more: Everything you need to know about GB News]

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Neil said GB News would look to build a paid subscription model for its digital offering and “build up a digital club”, but he said “first of all we have to build a community and that will be the job of linear television”.

Neil joined GB News after leaving the BBC, where he presented The Daily Politics, This Week and briefly The Andrew Neil Show, as well as carrying out a number of high-profile political interviews. He was previously editor of The Sunday Times and remains chairman of The Spectator.

He will present a nightly news programme on GB News containing “Wokewatch” and “Mediawatch” segments.

Asked by the FT’s Alex Barker whether it was the channel’s intention to “start stoking this fire” of the culture wars, Neil said: “Actually the fire’s been stoked by the woke warriors and by and large the establishment media is on their side, so we’ll just be a bit of a counter-voice to give another point of view.”

Pressed on which establishment media he was referring to, Neil replied: “The BBC… the Financial Times, all their coverage is pretty sympathetic to the woke warriors and never really counters them at all. We will.

“It’s a small part of our output. Look there are some quite serious and important issues, particularly what happened to people like J.K. Rowling and others in which woke wars have become cancel culture and perfectly legitimate voices are being closed out. That is a total turning of the Enlightenment on its head, going back to the 18th Century. That’s serious.

“Other things, like the Queen’s picture on some Oxford College, taken down by three Dons after they’d too much port, that’s just a bit of fun. And as you know from the time I did this This Week, we like a little fun, especially when people take themselves too seriously. And believe me they take themselves too seriously and we’ll have some fun.”

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Picture: GB News

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